II. INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
B. Coordinating, administrative and policy-making organizations
2. Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and the Environment
The fact that the Department of the Environment is part of a multifunctional ministry, and is not a ministry in its own right with a Cabinet minister responsible only for environmental issues, is reflective of the low priority placed on environmental issues. However, it could be argued that there is considerable overlap between the environment and housing and urban development issues. As interest in the environment grows so will the desire to create a separate Ministry of the Environment. As noted in the National Environment Strategy, the present location of the Department of the Environment in the Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and the Environment is “not suitable [because its] housing portfolio is very much a ‘development activity’ ”. Hence conflicts of interest within the Ministry are very likely to occur and inevitably obstruct some of its responsibilities. Still, the current minister responsible for the Ministry has devoted a considerable portion of his time to his environment portfolio and has taken a leading role in the development of the proposed Sustainable Development Act (Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and the Environment, 1996).
The Minister for Housing, Urban Development and the Environment is also responsible for the Department of Town and Country Planning. That department is accountable for the planning of multiple land use and development. The principle statute governing physical planning is the Town Planning Act, which contains a mechanism for environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedures. However, the form of the present EIA is not legally enforceable. The conditions on proposed developments is at the discretion of the Director of Town and Country Planning. It is through the application of such conditions to private and some public sector development approvals that requirements for EIAs are imposed.